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Phulkari Punjabi Kitchen, Madison Hts [DTW]

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Went to Phulkari Punjabi Kitchen, which is north of 11 Mile on Dequindre (27707 Dequindre Rd, by St John’s Oakland Hosp). It took over the old Indo Pak restaurant. Looks grim from the outside but inside is a big, VERY nicely styled counter service set up, where tipping at your table is optional.

I know very little about Indian cuisine, other than that I like it. Even Priya. But for what it’s worth, I find Phulkari very good, particularly for the price. I got the meat thali ($10) and a chaat ($5). Yes, I had plenty of leftovers. The chaat (1st one on menu; name =?) was constructed from extremely fresh ingredients, and clearly was put together by a chef, rather than by someone off the street. Indians always are a bit extreme with raw onions, and this dish proved no exception. But, I just scraped away some pieces and devoured the rest, including the date sauce I meticulously scraped-up with my spoon. I’m still not sure I love their chowmein-ish crispy things, but the potatoes were fantastic.

The butter chicken in thali was rich and excellent. The flavor was perhaps subdued by dairy (not in a bad way), but could be augmented upon request. It was not oily. The cubed breast meat was tender and juicy, surprisingly. Sure, bone-in thigh meat could have been better, but cubed meat has its advantages, particularly when eating out.

The lamb curry was good, but not magical like Zayeqa (though the former may in general be more consistent than the latter place). The spinach and cheese palak paneer featured a custom spice blend, making this dish all it can be. The bread and rice were fine. When ordering, I was offered several disparate choices of breads, some base and some premium. While I liked mine, I’ll probably choose another bread next time, particularly after seeing the pics on facebook. Wow! http://www.facebook.com/PhulkariKitchen

The desserts also smacked of TLC. One enabler of the care allocated to each dish is that the menu is focused, and doesn’t try to be a national food tour of India and all that country’s “greatest hits.” Closes at 6pm Sunday and is not open on Mondays. I’m really curious to get others’ takes on this place, but I warn you that you may very well run into me there :-)

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  1. I am on a curry kick at the moment (Chana Masala for dinner tonight) and just got the highly recommended 660 curries cookbook yesterday. I am off to Puhlkari tomorrow to give it a go and get some tasty leftovers as well. Thanks for the lead VTB.

    P.S. Rainsux, I am considering proposing Indian/Pak/Hakka for the next group outing but there is an interesting underlying disdain for the lazy susan style of serving on the Indian food websites. A cultural bias I don't understand obviously.

    1 Reply
    1. re: goatgolfer

      gg- I thought you would like this thread on 660 curries and didn't want you to miss it. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/871605

      I'm going to order it from my library. I do like the indiansimmers blog, I make the tikka masala way tooooo much! I just did a food swap in Tucson, where I traded the tikka masala spice kits. Food swapping was fun, someone should start it in DTW!

    2. Based on VTB's subdued review, I gave Punjabi kitchen a go for lunch today. Very clean and bright interior. Friendly counter welcome and I had the thali special on the 7 container classic plate (maybe novice but it's a cool thing on its own). Spinach and cheese palak paneer (chicken) was very flavorful and the sauce on rice got me to clean the bowl. The lamb curry was really lamb rather than mutton and was a bit short on magic for me. I had the dahl for my third dish and it was also not very special.

      The meat thali is $10 with naan and some terrific ( i mean really, really good) rice. Mango pickle, a yogurt mix/sauce and guava sweet with three meat dishes. I think next time I will have to give the vegetarian a stronger go as I hope that is their specialty ($8). Still a very clean and reasonable Punjabi that was half full on Sunday 1pm can't be all bad.

      1 Reply
      1. re: goatgolfer

        GG, you like Indian pickles? Good man. Hard core.

      2. I called Phulkari Punjabi Kitchen to confirm they will have goat curry on the menu for Wed 3 Oct 2012. They confirmed they will but not on the thali plate special (a la carte). I'm there for lunch with my Windsor friend and plan to get a portion for lunch and another to go. Will report back. We're there at 12 noon if anyone wants to join.

        2 Replies
        1. re: goatgolfer

          Oh, dear...you might find it a bit more difficult tomorrow than originally expected. Metro Times did their review of this place for the new issue, so all the early risin' readers might be drawn toward you folks.

          Normally I'd throw my lot in with you, but I'm taking Donna out for lunch tomorrow at Weekday Cafe, so that's where I'll be. Hope PPK is as good as touted!

          1. re: goatgolfer

            The goat curry was terrific with both nan and rice. Very rich and succulent. Their was no gravy left in any of the three dishes at our table and we could have eaten more.

          2. We tried PPK for dinner last night. We were very impressed. None of the seasoning was dumbed-down, and the flavors were vibrant and interesting.

            I usually have low expectations for chicken korma, but theirs was tasty and tender throughout. The lamb curry was very good as well.

            We both felt that the outstanding dish in our thalis was the mattar paneer aloo. It had a great texture, a nice "burn", and popped with flavor.

            PPK is definitely one of our "destination" restaurants, now, despite being over an hour from home.

            1. As I type this, I am cooking up a chicken korma; I'm cheating a little as I'm using a Shan spice mix (with a couple of adjustments)!

              Again, based upon the above comments, seems like a good candidate for a meet!

              Indo-Pak, for the record, was my go-to place for samosas! Recommended to me by a Punjabi friend, I could not go wrong; definitely was the best in town.

              4 Replies
              1. re: motorfamilymotorcity

                I like the place, and I like get togethers. But IMO it may not be special enough to warrant an organized get together. I could be persuaded otherwise, though. I suppose.

                1. re: VTB

                  Was Zayeqa special enough, VTB? Define the parameters of "special", please. ;)

                  1. re: boagman

                    :-) Yes, Zayeqa was unique enough where everyone would feel like it was worth it, particulary for those prices (even though prices have gone up, and not every single thing was good). Not sure if PPK would stand out (even though I liked it). Now, if they served up a special thali for group night, that may be a different story!

                2. Finally tried them last night, and had a very positive experience. Enjoyed my platter of different items (not everything was to my taste, but how could it be?), and left very satisfied. I rather enjoyed the lamb curry, the chicken achari, and the curried cauliflower/potatoes, as well as the basmati rice,the naan, the cripsy bread which I can't remember the name of at the moment, the tomato/cucumber/onion/cilantro salad. Less enthused about the raita (still haven't had one I liked...not this place's fault, for certain), and the ultra-sour achari garnish, and the doughnut-esque dessert.

                  I actually got educated a bit by the order taker WRT the achari garnish: it is *not* to be eaten straight, but merely should act as a flavor enhancer taken with other dishes. Didn't know that, and it, made a *lot* more sense that way.

                  For $10, I got to try a few different things on the menu, and I liked all of them. That's a heckuva good sign, even if I am a sucker for lamb curry in general.

                  1. I'm in the process of convincing my wife and daughter that this could be a great non-turkey lunch for tomorrow! Naturally, my son needs no encouragement! Review forthcoming!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: motorfamilymotorcity

                      I've only been there the once, but it's a place I'm going back to. I have a feeling you'll like it!

                        1. re: motorfamilymotorcity

                          And Ceirin was kept to only 2Kg of bihrani via fence or electric prod.??.. Come on we need more input as a get-to-gether has been proposed.

                    2. I've been there as well. I really liked the kachori chaat.

                      1. We've gone about 6-7 times and really enjoy the samosas, on the thalis - lamb curry, the paneer with smoky hot tomato sauce (cannot remember name), the okra veg dish - and the carrot halvah (in the sweets case). Everything has been very good but the flavorings in the lamb, the paneer (makhni?) and the carrot sweet really stand out to me. The only thing I have tried and not liked at all was the rose syrup drink, but that's just a disconnect between my tastes and the rose syrup lovers of the world.

                        1. Went back tonight, for the third, and absolute *last time*. PPK is now ensconced in the same territory as Inn Season Cafe to me. The only way they could have done more poorly tonight was if they'd set the customers ablaze.

                          For some very odd reason, the owner/son of the owner seems to think that because his restaurant is a "family owned" restaurant, and that (so he says) they've been in the business for 20-30 years, they can treat customers like garbage, do nothing about it, and then try to "guilt" you into not writing about your horrible experience online because "it can really affect our business". Yeah...or maybe it's the fact that:

                          1. Your menu price changes literally in the blink of an eye
                          2. You added an additional charged item not asked for (caught, and refunded)
                          3. You claimed that the order would take 10 minutes, and it took a full half hour
                          4. You served food to people who'd arrived afterward *right in front of* the guy who ordered before they had
                          5. You lie and say that "It's just me and my mom tonight" when there's *clearly* at least one other person in the kitchen and then, when called out on the lie, state "He's just washing dishes"
                          6. You totally drop the ball at every given opportunity to make things right and *argue* with the customer whose time you wasted, even to the point of threatening to call the police!
                          7. I'm sure there was other garbage that I just can't think of right now.

                          Yeah, maybe stuff like *that* can affect your business, *too*. I mean, surely a family that's been running in the restaurant business for decades wouldn't do these things, since they'd KNOW THAT THEY'D FAILED AT EVERY POINT. Should they try to make it right? Nope...let's *argue* with the customer, threaten to call the police, and then, *on the way out the door*, somehow *still* try to pull the "It's a family business!" B.S. line to somehow excuse your shameful behavior.

                          I don't *care* if your food is good or not. I will *never* be that hungry, nor that desperate. I'll never be back, I'll *always* send people in the opposite direction of you, and believe it or not: I'll still have *lots* of places to go for Indian food that's not served with a generous side of unmitigatedly unfounded hubris. The only correct thing was a well-deserved full refund of the purchase price, but the place is still beyong saving.

                          Avoid at all costs.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: boagman

                            It is unfortunate that was your experience, but I'm there 1-2 times a week, the food has always been great, and the service friendly. Would you like to add anything useful to the rest of us to your vague yet harsh review (before you send the Universe running running in the other direction)?

                            1. re: HillsofBeverly

                              Not really. You don't see me taking back anything previously said about my other visits, do you? As well, I've been around long enough to have sufficiently planted my feet here. If you know me (don't you?), you know I'm a fair guy.

                              I've also gotta ask: what, exactly, was "vague"? I'll absolutely cop to "harsh"...that was kind of the point. But vague?

                              1. re: boagman

                                Well, the escalation from an alleged extra item (and I wasn't there, so I have no idea what went down) to threatening to call the police is a pretty big jump....

                                None of us know each other - this is the internet.

                                1. re: HillsofBeverly

                                  It was surely an odd experience, that's for sure...a first for me, ever. It's really one of those "you had to be there to see it" things, I guess.

                                  While this is the internet, I honestly thought you'd been at one of the local gatherings where I've been present. I'm probably mistaken on that, but surely my overall persona on this board would give you some perspective on my view, here. To wit: it takes an *awful* stinking lot to get my ire up, but once it's up, it's well-deserved. I'm hardly the "Grab your pitchforks and torches and come with me!" man of extremes, nor am I the "ITSTHEBESTTHINGEVAR!" type idiot, either.

                                  I'm pretty even-handed, but when the dam is broken, the flood is surely coming.